Saturday, February 7, 2015

Health Equity and Transportation in the Los Angeles Region

Our Partners at Prevention Institute describe the power of place in the Los Angeles Region in the KCET blog post:  Health, Transportation, and the Power of Prevention.

The blog post provides excellent ideas for policies regarding future transportation investments in Los Angeles County:
  1. Increase investment in active transportation modes (walking and bicycling) and public transit, in order to help make healthy choices easy choices. While L.A. County residents make nearly 20 percent of their daily trips on foot or bicycle, Metro dedicates just one percent of its funding to pedestrian and bicycle projects. City and county agencies should target investments in areas with high rates of pedestrian and cyclist injuries, and those with a high proportion of transit-dependent residents.
  2. Prioritize health-promoting investments within transit-oriented developments and along key corridors. Ensure that people can access daily resources on foot, bicycle, or transit (including rail and bus). Affordable housing and childcare, urban green space and healthy food retailers, are just a few types of infrastructure that every neighborhood needs for a healthy future.
  3. Strive to be more student-, senior- and family-friendly. The cost of transit can be prohibitive for L.A. families, seniors. and students, but if we take into account all of the health, economic. and environmental benefits of getting people to use public transportation, we can make a strong case for family passes, universal student passes. and subsidies for seniors. One way to keep transit affordable for everyone is to charge for automobile parking at rail stations rather than raising transit fares, as Metro has recently proposed.
  4. Don’t leave buses and bus-riders behind. Clean, low-emission buses offer flexibility that can’t be matched by light rail. Investing in our bus system is also an equity issue, as people who ride the bus in L.A. tend to have lower household incomes and less access to automobiles than those who ride rail. More bus routes running more often and providing better connections to key destinations are all important goals for improving transportation equity.
  5. Deal with the noise. Noise is a health concern because it is associated with psychological distress. Pedestrians and bicyclists endure a disproportionate burden of noise pollution generated by automobile traffic. Noise pollution is also particularly severe, inescapable, and unjust at stations along the Metro Blue and Green Lines, which sit in the middle of freeways and serve large populations of people of color and transit-dependent riders. Whenever possible, transportation decisions should prioritize minimizing and mitigating noise pollution.

As Los Angeles County begins to consider its 4th regional transportation sales tax it is critical that community based organizations, policymakers, school districts and public agencies and all interested stakeholders include our public health data and strategies to inform and guide future investments.

Addressing Social Equity and Public Health in Metro Long Range Transportation Plan

by Jessica Meaney

Metro Ballot Measure and Long Range Transportation Plan Schedule

by Jessica Meaney